Danda likes his Listener like he likes his women… (with apologies to Danda if I have messed up gender and/or orientation)

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword.  Aaaah, October 7.  It is a day that I will remember for a long time.

Two Little Words came out on a happy day – a friend of mine was visiting me from Australia, and she and I were going to head up to New York City for the weekend to be supertourists!  We’d pre-booked all sorts of crazy fun, and were going to be Those People that you’d spot from a mile off as being in the wrong city, in the wrong time and drunk as hell.

I had a few things to do in the morning (work, finish the entry for Body of Evidence) and we were going to head out to the airport in the afternoon.  I’d just finished the Body of Evidence post, and printed off Two Little Words when I got a phone call – my friend had an accident and I needed to go take her to emergency care.

Panic stations – we’ve got a plane to catch in 5 hours!

So while Two Little Words should have been started on a plane with some pre-flight drinks, it was started while I was a nervous wreck in the waiting room of urgent care.  I didn’t have Bradfords or Chambers, I did have my smartass phone, which had reasonable internet access, but the usage of which was frowned on by the workers in the building, so I had to sneak into corners or into the toilet to use it.  I must have looked like even more of a suspicious customer than I usually am.

Seven unclued entries, some letters not indicated by wordplay, and a message.  Sounds like we’re in real word territory (Chambers Word Wizards works OK on my phone – i believe there’s a mobile version of Qat, but I’m not quite used to that yet).

There’s no 1 across, but there is a 2 across, and it’s a starter clue – container of I’M in REPORT for REIMPORT – all the letters appear to be present and accounted for in the wordplay, on we go.

The top half went in pretty fast – I was on Danda’s wavelength with these clues most of the time – I laughed when I saw TEEPEE which maybe should have been clued as “sounds like toilet paper” since Beavis and Butthead is coming back (taped it last night, don’t tell me if it was any good or not).  First missing wordplay letters came out with MISLEAD (though it could have been SLEAD, LEAD or AD that wasn’t indicated by wordplay).

This was a funny grid fill, it went from the top almost immediately to the side – where ZEUS as a reversal of SUEZ made A DIME A DOZEN a suspicious looking possibility for an unclued entry.  That would match with INEXPENSIVE over on the other side.  Well they’re related to each other.

14 down looks like PREPAY with only PRE and A in the wordplay… if 20 across is ECHE then there’s CHEAP and 20 across only has the E given by wordplay.  That’s sneaky!  So 21 down could be HAAR with only the R in wordplay?

Good news!  Slight fracture, pain medication, a sling, and we’re off to New York City as planned!  And I know that this Listener has something to do with CHEAP.

Asheville to Newark is a fairly cozy 90 minute flight.  Even more so when the plane is half empty and you don’t have to squush in next to someone with a fractured arm.  Two seats to myself to slob out, and play with Bradfords and my laptop with the electronic Chambers.

So I figured the phrase would be CHEAP AND NASTY, but I got at it the wrong way – I thought in 23 down, the wordplay was just Z,ER so that was where the AND came from.  It wasn’t until after figuring that 27 was STYING with only SIG clued that CHEAP AND NASTY was all together in the right middle of the grid.  The rest of the unclued entries came together – SHODDY, NAUSEOUS, INDECENT…

All except LOVE?Y… now surely it can’t be anything but LOVELY, but how does that work to CHEAP and/or NASTY?  I guess it can be used as a sarcastic term.

Well this was done and dusted over three hours in the waiting room and 90 minutes on the plane.  I wonder if I do myself a disservice by solving in bars, on the sofa, or in places where there’s distractions.  It took me back to what really got me started on the Listener, which I didn’t really want to relive, but if you’re stuck in a waiting room alone for a long period of time, there’s nothing better to keep you occupied than a bloody hard crossword.

My grid for Listener 4158, Two Little Words by DandaAssuming it’s LOVELY, I’m calling this a Victory to George.  It was a really fun theme, and a good puzzle.  I laughed over a lot of the clues, and the wordplay trick was neat, particularly in the two where only one letter was left of the wordplay.  Thanks, Danda (forgot to mention either a new setter or a newdonym again!).

2011 tally:  George 33, Listener 8.  Current streak:  George 7

Hi to all the new readers who have come over from the links in the Guardian blog list – thanks to Alan (who used to comment at the old Blogspot site).  Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week when Pointer learns how to spell crossword.

And congrats Phi on 1000 daily puzzles!


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